Everyone expects the Avalanche to finish bottom 3 in the league, and I have a hard time disagreeing. However, I could easily see Colorado doing what Toronto did last year, which is finish 12th in the conference. Yeah, big deal, 12th, but that's my prediction. As bad as the offense is, I think the defense and goaltending will be enough to the keep the Avalanche placing from last in the west again (I think the honors this year will go to Edmonton).
The two players that really need to step things up this year are Wolski and Stewart. Both need to show they can play like top 6 forwards every night. Stastny, too, has something to prove: that he can stay healthy. In goal, if Craig Anderson can play the way he did last year for 55+ games this year, things will start to look up as far as this teams playoff hopes go in the coming seasons.
At the deadline, GM Greg Sherman needs to try to move veterans for prospects; that includes Salei, Tucker, Clark, Svatos, and even possibly Hannan. Foote won't be traded because he came back to Colorado to retire, not to play for a mediocre Avs team and then get shipped to a borderline playoff team at the deadline.
The lines tonight are as follows, per Daters blog:
Wolski - Stastny - Hejduk
McLeod - Duchene - Svatos
Tucker - Galiardi - Stewart
Koci - ??? - Hensick
Quincey - Clark
Liles - Salei
Hannan - Foote
The 4th line center spot is a decision between Hendricks and O'Reilly. Can someone tell me why O'Reilly wasn't sent back to the OHL right away is the plan was to bench him game 1?
Well, at least Svatos is on the 2nd line with quality line matE. I don't have as big a problem as some with McLeod being in a top 6 role, but why is he on a scoring line while Hensick is on a checking line? I'm not a Hensick fan, and I know Sacco doesn't have much to work with, but I just don't see the point.
My prediction for tonight's game: 4-2 Colorado. This seems like one of those weird games where they'll actually put up a fight, being Joe Sakic night and all. On the other end of the spectrum, the Sharks will lose and the media will once again question how good they are after losing opening night to a bottom feeder.